Has California Finally Broken the New Hampshire Stranglehold?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

The Boston Globe recently reported an unmistakable absence—of presidential candidates in New Hampshire.

The late summer before a presidential year often leaves the Granite State full of contenders. But few were around, the Globe said. Why? Many were off fundraising—or visiting California.

Maybe California is finally breaking the New Hampshire stranglehold on the first presidential primary.

If so, it would be about time. The Golden State is not just bigger, it’s vastly more important to the country. And we offer a more diverse array of voters. And we offer more potential donors to hit up, which is vital under the new party rules that link participation in the debate to your number of donors.

California’s primary election date is still later than New Hampshire’s, but with our early voting and mail-ballot-heavy elections, Californians will already vote earlier than New Hampshire voters in 2020.

Of course, it’s not entirely clear that California has leapfrogged New Hampshire. The Granite State’s results will come before ours, perhaps preserving that state’s outsized political impact. And if Kamala Harris adds to her narrow lead in the polls here, it’s possible that other candidates may decide to concede the state. (Or perhaps Gov. Newsom’s new law to require tax returns from candidates could scare away candidates).

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